Encountering a student wearing her major's baseball jacket to course of other majors is no longer an awkward scene since plenty of students are now double majoring. From this year, 2015, students who enter Sookmyung must double major if they are not planning on minoring in a subject or doing an intensive major. The measure is not new to Sookmyungians. Before 2011, all students were required to double major. SMT reporters researched student opinion on the requirement by conducting a survey. Please note that the information detailed in this article is based on the 2014 brochure since the new one for 2015 has not yet been updated yet.
Student Voices: Fill the Loopholes
When asked about the requirement for students entering Sookmyung from 2015, one school authority revealed, “Since Korean society currently expects graduates to be well-rounded persons, the requirement will strengthen the competitiveness of Sookmyungians and it will also produce a synergy effect - the fusing of different majors. The decision was made after deep consideration and in accordance with the new policy mandatory credit requirements and other details are currently being modified.” The school, then, seems to be preparing students to be more competitive. How do students feel about the new policy? According to an online poll conducted by SMT of 266 students between March 7th and 24th, a majority (82.3%) of students said they were double majoring or would start a double major. According to the school authority, the most sought majors in order of student preference are Business Administration, Economics, English, Communication & Media, Public Relations & Advertising, Culture & Tourism, and Chinese Language & Literature.
Then, why do so many students double major? 31.6% of students said they enjoy the synergy effect by studying different majors. Following this, a number of students believe having a second major will aid them in attaining a job or building up their career credentials. On the other hand, there were also a number of students who claimed to have undergone problems doing double major. Thus, before Sookmyung made the decision, it should have consulted students. Moreover, by reflecting on students’ responses, as the saying goes, Sookmyung would have found “a guide into tomorrow by taking lessons from the past.”
Difficulty 1. Course Registration Headaches
Lim Sujin, Division of Computer Science ‘12, said that “Because of first major priority course, students attempting a double major in the subject are often the ones unable to register for a course.” She felt it a huge burden to bear and as such had difficulty attaining the required number of credits. Also, some mandatory major classes block double major students from enrolling in the course; they are only offered to students studying the course as a first major. Hong Youngeun in the Department TESL '13 who chose to double major in Social Psychology was unable to enroll in the compulsory major class because it only accepted students who were doing a first major in the subject to enter the class. Upon questioning of professor in charge of the course, she responded with "The course is required for students majoring in Social Psychology. Sadly, the classroom environment regulates that I limit the number of enrollees.” In order to solve the problem, classroom allocation must be considered to meet the demands of students. On the other hand, according to Clause 4 of Article 10 on school regulation: "If a student opts to double major in a certain subject, the number of vacancies for double majoring students can be limited according to GPA when the number of double majoring students surpass the number of students currently enrolled in the major.” Despite this regulation, students prefer certain subjects over other; thus, course registration difficulty is likely to occur. Regarding this inevitable happening, the school authority answered, “We are doing our best to cope with registration difficulty by adjusting and modifying the curriculum and offering additional open lectures.” SMT looked at how other universities were managing course registration. At Kyunghee University, the number of double majoring students per a major is fixed to under 30% of the total number of enrolled students of the previous year. To ascertain whether Kyunghee University students felt less pressure registering for double major classes,
SMT met two Kyunghee University students. Kim Jaehong, double majoring in Public Administration and International Business & Trade, said, “I have had no trouble enrolling in every class I applied for. Also, I can’t sense any disadvantages for double majoring students.” Kim Jongsu, in the Department of Horticultural Biotechnology added, “Seats for double majoring students are allotted in advance and the registration period differs from first major students; thus we encounter no issues registering for classes as a second major student.” Sookmyung, on the other hand, has a very unique way of course registration, which gives priority based on one’s school year and previous semester’s GPA. Through this system, first major students always receive top priority during class registration over those enrolling in the course as a second major. Indeed, the school must differentiate students, but the school also needs to consider assistance for students trying to double major.
Difficulty 2. Receiving and Finding Up-to-date Information
Other double majoring students complaint there’s a lack of information about majors such as what does one learn in that major and what are the curriculum requirements for obtaining the degree; thus, it makes students confused when they choose or enroll in classes. With this in mind, SMT looked at how Sookmyung informs students about these concerns. First, the school provides a brochure or booklet called “Yoram” and holds ‘department briefing sessions,’ which introduce learning objectives or future possibilities. The brochure details curriculums and basic information about course, required credits, and so forth. However, Kim Gayoung, Department of TESL ’13 confessed, “Throughout my previous three years on campus, I had no idea the school had such a brochure. I had difficulty finding reliable information about my double major, but now that I know the brochure exists, I think I can get advice from it.” Besides Gayoung, many students do not know about it even though the brochure is available on the school website. Moreover, updates about double majoring are not up-to-date with changes; for instance, for this spring semester, the brochures were not uploaded. In fact, they have yet to be uploaded and it’s March. Course registration was during February. Without the constant updates, student confusion is inevitable. For example, the School of Media & Communication’s graduation requirements have changed but the brochure does not reflect this change yet. The only way students found out was a posting on SNOWE by a professor. This kind of happening causes students to voice complains about the lack of curriculum information.
At department briefing sessions, which are held annually during early May by each department, not many students participate. The Department of English said only approximately 20 students usually participate in the briefing session, and for the Division of Child & Welfare, there are a bit more at 50. Considering the number of double majoring students, it is clear that a majority of students do not attend department briefing sessions. Since personal scheduling may prevent one from attending a department briefing session, these sessions should be offered more often with more promotion about the session. For instance, Sookmyung annually holds the event called Open Campus for high school students to help them choose a major before entering university. Like this, these types of events would benefit enrolled students as well. Of course, the event content should be differ, but as we reported in the ON SMU articles in the previous issue, Gye Hyoseon, a first grade student at Mokdong Highschool, said, “I was able to listen to a real university lecture, which made me understand the major more thoroughly. I am thankful to the booth of 60 students from 27 different majors who introduced their study and future career possibilities.” The event will allow students better understanding of other majors when considering which subject to double major in.
Difficulty 3. Does Double Majoring at Sookmyung Require Students to Obtain Too Many Credits?
Another hardship mentioned on the survey concerned credit requirement. Go Jihye, Divison of Korean Language & Literature ’14, pointed out that “We have to obtain so many credits, but the university doesn’t offer information about how and where double majoring students can benefit from all that study.” Thus, SMT investigated whether Sookmyung really does require its double majoring students to obtain more credits than other schools. Sookmyung was compared to Sogang University and Hongik University.
These two universities were selected after considering five criteria according to the 2014 Korean Council for University Education: SMT compared the three most popular majors’ credit requirement for 2014 with the other universities. Numbers in parentheses indicate required credits for first major students while numbers outside of parentheses indicate the required credits for a student doing a double major in that subject. After talking to a school authority, SMT was told “the required credits are decided by each department, and some departments require a lot of credits from students, even compared to other schools, yet some departments require less.” Accordingly, SMT asked Sim Jaewoong, Professor of the School of Media & Communication, and he answered, “Required credits for the students of our major were decided based on the promotion of their competitiveness. Also, although each school offers the same major, the curriculum differs according to the school’s educational aim and vision. Moreover, starting 2015, a new school measurement has made each department adjust and change credit requirements. You should look into the modifications in the brochure once it is available for distribution to students.
Double Cooperation, Double Competiveness
As mentioned above, according to the survey, a majority of double majoring students expect the synergy effect from both majors. Additionally, double majoring can be a good way to develop one’s career when one is not satisfied with one’s first, main major. However, double majoring means double effort. Sometimes, you will face rejection from class enrollment, feel embarrassed because the course is not what you expected, or suffer heavy workloads. Though the interview with school authorities seems to indicate the school is aware of the difficulties, no concrete action is in place. Just as the Sookmyung slogan expresses, SMT expects new measures to be the start of change for raising students’ gentle power.